According to legend, during the Moorish occupation, a remarkable young Vizier, valued by the powerful Sultan for his wise counsel, fell in love with what is now called the Vicentina Coast. Whenever he could get away from his duties, he would mount his horse and explore the coastline, dotted with coves and beaches of silky sand, where still today the golden plains of the Alentejo run down to the Atlantic. On one of his long rides, lost in wonder at the natural beauty all around him, he paused to rest outside the walls of a small castle, surrounded by a fairytale garden of geraniums.
In the months that followed, the young lovers met in secret, because the girl was the daughter of a Mozarabic governor* and was already promised in marriage. For some time, Almir and Eleonor exchanged tokens of their love, letters and flowers until one day they were discovered by her father.
Unmoved by her tears and pleading, he placed the castle under heavy guard and concealed his daughter in the highest tower. But the young Vizier was dismayed at being kept from his beloved, and resolved to abduct her. Disregarding the Sultan’s authority, he assembled a troop of armed men and planned a surprise raid that led to a fierce battle.
For a whole morning the fighting continued unabated, until the triumphant Vizier finally rode into the castle yard. Confident of claiming his bride he was waylaid by a trap: there stood the governor, with a sword pointed at his own daughter’s throat. Knowing that this was his last chance, the old man shouted to the Vizier that if he took another step, he would run his daughter through with his sword. Convinced the old man was merely bluffing, the Vizier raised his sword and galloped forward to seize his prize. But the governor was firm in his resolve: he killed his own daughter and then, with the same sword, ended his own life. It was over in seconds.
They say that in his sorrow, the Vizier turned his back on the Sultan’s glittering court, and took refuge in one of the realm’s most beautiful but hidden places – Porto Covo. There he pitched his tent and lived out his days in solitude.
As solace for his loss, he decided to write a letter each day to his loved one, and let the sea carry it to wherever her new abode might be.
Almir had kept the handkerchief that Eleonor was embroidering when their eyes first met. One day before he died, he buried it in her garden of geraniums and made the wish that any two lovers who kissed in that place would live happily ever after.
In the course of refurbishment work on the camp site, a small chest was found, partly rotted away, and inside it an ancient piece of embroidery. It is thought this may be the handkerchief that Eleonor gave to Almir. An object that speaks of the love that has united them for all eternity. They say it has brought luck to couples who kiss in its presence. So come and see it in the camp site reception area.
To mark this precious find, there is now a quiet pond with goldfish, frogs and dragonflies.
*The Mozarabs(Spanish: mozárabes [moˈθaɾaβes]; Portuguese: moçárabes [muˈsaɾɐβɨʃ]; Catalan: mossàrabs [muˈsaɾəps]; Arabic: مستعرب trans. musta’rab, “Arabized”) is a modern historical term that refers to the Iberian Christians who lived under Moorish rule in Al-Andalus. Their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, however they were mostly fluent in Arabic and adopted elements of Arabic culture. Mozarabs were mostly Roman Catholics of the Visigothic or Mozarabic Rite.
Source: Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia